HC Deb 26 July 1993 vol 229 c702W
Mr. Chris Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for the management and disposal arising from the United Kingdom nuclear power programme of(a) the stockpile of plutonium, (b) vitrified high-level waste from spent fuel reprocessing, (c) intermediate-level waste from reprocessing and (d) spent fuel that is not reprocessed but placed in temporary storage.

Mr. Yeo

The policy for vitrified high-level waste from spent fuel reprocessing is to store it for at least 50 years before disposal. The arrangements for disposal have not yet been determined.

UK Nirex Ltd. is the nuclear industry body charged with the responsibility of developing new disposal facilities for low and intermediate-level wastes, including reprocessing waste. The work of Nirex to develop such facilities continues, and it will have to satisfy the planning and regulatory authorities that its proposals are acceptable. The relevant wastes will be stored until the facilities become available.

Plutonium and irradiated nuclear fuel are of potential value. It is for the owners to consider what they wish to do with such material and to satisfy the relevant authorities that their proposals are acceptable.

Mr. Ainger

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what studies have been carried out into the environmental and health implications of storing intermediate-level wastes arising from the reprocessing of foreign spent nuclear fuel in the thermal oxide reprocessing plant; and if he will give an estimate of the plutonium content of this waste per tonne of spent fuel reprocessed.

Mr. Eggar

[holding answer 14 July 1993]: I have been asked to reply.

Responsibility for the storage of intermediate-level wastes arising from reprocessing rests with British Nuclear Fuels plc as operators of the Sellafield site, subject to meeting the statutory requirements of the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate. The precise plutonium content of the waste will depend upon the operational performance of the thermal oxide reprocessing plant.